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Theo Priestley, Chief Evangelist for Software AG and frequent contributor to the BPM Forum recently asked me to review the book, The Digital Enterprise: The Moves and Motives of the Digital Leaders, written by Karl-Heinz Streibich, the CEO of Software AG.  The book is avaible at Amazon here.

Immediately, the book kicks off with the quote: Not every business is a digital business, but every business must become digital.

From the vantage point of business process management, I couldn't agree more. A subject that comes up occasionally with BPM (and with any technology older than a year), is the question, Is BPM dead? But I think the real question is, Are the old ways of doing business dead?  The answer: Yes, they are. Every branch of business and IT is undergoing a sea change that is working towards putting the customer front and center.

This book is an excellent primer in how to digitize your company, covering everything from the factory floor to the C-Suite. What I like most about the book is it provides excellent real-world case studies from industires as diverse as aviation, utilities, insurance companies, museums and casinos.

The book begins with a forward from Marc Benief, the CEO of Salesforce, and he sums it up quite well with:

"As any of the leaders of these companies will tell you, becoming a digital company, a connected company, a customer company, is a journey. You need to start as early as possible, and there is no finish line. After all, when it comes to technology, the only constant is change."

I will definitely be returning to this book for the many in-depth examples...so should you.

Last month I received a copy of Dr. Setrag Khoshafian's latest book, "Intelligent BPM: The Next Wave for Customer-centric Business Applications." I had peer-reviewed an early version and offered a jacket quote, but in all sincerity had I come across it any other way I would have bought it immediately. It's quite good.

Dr. Khoshafian is someone I have known for many years, back to the 1990s when he was the head engineer for the company that later became Savvion. He joined Pegasystems in 2003 (from Savvion) where he serves as Chief Evangelist and VP of BPM Technology, but his street cred and contributions to the evolution of BPM transcend any single vendor.

The BPM (Business Process Management) or business management by processes has been the subject of several definitions and approaches depending on the perspective of the interests of its authors, but we can synthesize in two major tendencies, one more IT oriented and other more concerned with the management of the business itself. The IT approach is more focused on modeling, automation and execution of processes, supported by tools of BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) while the management approach aims to ensure the achievement of strategic objectives, seeking to maximize efficiency through the processes, and thereby achieving greater profitability of business operations. It is in this vision that this article should be understood, leaving specific aspects to the reader, essentials to the BPM approach, in order to help organizations ensure real business benefits.

All of us like practical tips that we can read quickly, use easily, and produce results. Since I began blogging two years ago my focus has always been on writing about my experience with clients in the BPM/Process Improvement field—or what a colleague of mine calls providing, "Notes From the Front."

My new book, The BPI Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Guide to Making your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured, and Successful, just published in February and available on Amazon, is a practical guide tells you exactly what's required at each BPI phase, and techniques are explained so you can replicate them.

Here are "some tips for the road" that you will make your BPI project successful and there are many more in the book.

Over the last 12 years, I've seen – and helped drive – a lot of change in the BPM market.  First, I watched BPM move from a heavy focus on integration to a greater focus on collaboration and social interaction.  And then, BPM expanded from highly structured and ‘automate-able’ processes to address unstructured, more dynamic business processes.  It is safe to say that over the last decade, demand for BPM was driven by key characteristics of the "Information Age" - a relentless drive towards improving the flow and sharing of information across people and systems.

Now, the most compelling business cases powering fresh demand for BPM focus on characteristics of the new age we are moving into - what Forrester calls the "Age Of The Customer."  If you look closely at most of today’s BPM initiatives, they tend to hide behind an imaginary firewall that separates what external customers experience and what internal business operations feel they need to be efficient. In this new age, business leaders are waking up to the realization that they can no longer divorce process improvement from the people and systems that touch customers, partners, and customer-facing employees. 

Over the years, organizations have created "business processes" mainly to rein in the chaos that has proliferated inside their operations. They have installed BPM tools to automate their processes and make sure tasks can be repeated successfully over and over again.

This practice does a good job of restoring order, but it also has a downside. Installing a rigid process can create a system where an organization gets too locked into certain procedures and ends up repeating the same mistakes. What organizations need is a less static, more iterative approach that sets rules to bring order from chaos, but allows them to make changes easily when parts of the process become outdated, irrelevant, unnecessary.